One of the more impressive factors during the Los Angeles Lakers blowout win over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day was that they did so without starting center JaVale McGee.
The big man has yet to return after being hospitalized with pneumonia and a respiratory infection. Of course before signing with the Lakers this summer, McGee spent the previous two seasons with the Warriors.
Head coach Steve Kerr employed McGee as part of a center platoon and though he played a big role in some important contests, averaged just 9.5 minutes in those two years. That has changed with the Lakers as McGee has thrived in this starting role, averaging career-highs in points and blocks while playing 23.5 minutes per night.
Among those happy for McGee is his former coach Kerr, as he told Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times, and noted when the former Warriors center will receive his championship ring:
“I’m happy for JaVale,” Kerr said. “He’s getting more of a chance to play with the Lakers than he did with us. We had a lot of centers play a really important role for us the last couple of years. He was fantastic and we loved having him here. Wish he was here and that we could give him his ring today, but we’ll do it next time.”
The Warriors were set to present McGee with his ring in a ceremony before Tuesday’s game, but that will now take place on Feb. 2 when the Lakers make another visit to Oakland.
McGee should be able to return to the Lakers soon and coincidentally, could now find himself in a bit of a platoon after Ivica Zubac has thrived in a starting role the last three games. Regardless of how things are handled when he comes back, McGee has already proven that he can handle a much bigger role than many thought, much to the delight of his former coach.
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